Posts Tagged ‘New Years’

Same Old Same Old 1-5-14

This week’s sermon came from John 1:1-18. This week represents the end of the Christmas Season as we transition into the Season of Epiphany. In this sermon I discuss how God comes to us in Jesus, and shows us that He was never that far away from humanity to start with.

You can listen to the sermon here:

You can follow along with the text of the sermon here. As usual, disregard the indications to pause and the odd punctuation.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen
How close are you to getting back to normal? We’re pretty much all at some point in that transition aren’t we? The holidays are over…Christmas has come and gone. New Year’s is past…school break is coming to a close. Most of us have started back to work after some time off. (pause) Life out there…is getting back to the same old same old isn’t it?
Here in the church, we’re making the same sort of transition. Today marks the end of the Christmas season…not just that today is the second Sunday of Christmas, which it is, but today is also the 12th day of Christmas…so after today…even here in the church…Christmas is over.
And you know what, maybe that’s not a bad thing.  Sure Christmas is a wonderful experience. Candle light worship…singing those well know carols…hearing about the manger scene in scripture…its great. (pause)
But…after a couple of weeks of it…even Christmas starts to feel repetitive…even Christmas starts to feel like the same old thing…and that same old thing…can get a little long in the tooth.
We’re singing carols again today in worship…but come on, be honest now…it feels a little weird to be singing Hark the Herald Angels sing knowing that Christmas was almost 2 weeks ago…and its now January 5th…but we’re singing it today…although it might be a little bit grudgingly when we get to it at the end of the service.
As we look around, we still see the Christmas tree…the Advent wreath is still sitting there…all 5 candles burning for the third time in a row. The Decorations are still up out in the Narthex…we see evergreen wreaths in the window sills.
Maybe it’s a good thing that the season of Christmas is coming to a close…I think its time for something new…after all, we’re in a new year…2014…here we are, 5 days into it…a new year with all of its new hopes and dreams…all of those expectations…all those new resolutions to eat better, work out more, find a new job, be less stressed…yah…how’s all that going for you? (pause)
Are you the kind of person that makes goals for themselves every year and actually sticks with them…or are you like many people who have great intentions going in, but quickly find themselves back to the normal grind…back to the same old story.
You know…speaking of the same old story…has anyone else noticed that the scripture lessons are starting to get a little repetitive too? The Sunday before Christmas we heard Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth…told from the perspective of Joseph.  Christmas Eve we heard from Luke…and the well-known birth narrative…Last week we had a little reprieve as we heard about Herod and his fury at the birth of a new king…and now today, we hear from John…the opening chapter…the introduction to the Gospel…and yet another example of Jesus coming into the world. (pause) Same story…different angle. (pause) And it is really starting to feel like the same old same old.
Of course…I guess it could just be me think this…particularly in terms of today’s Gospel lesson from John 1. I thought about it this week and realized that in my history of preaching, reaching back about 5 or 6 years now…this passage has occurred the most…as most of my preaching has followed the lectionary, most passages only come up once every 3 years…so the chance for hitting the same one has been pretty slim. It’s happened occasionally, but not often…But John 1? Well, I’ve preached on this one at least 4 times before in various situations.  And perhaps, when I read it a moment ago, you thought it sounded familiar…and not just because it’s the third story of Jesus entering the world that we’ve heard in the past 3 weeks, but because I preached on this very passage back at the end of October in the face of some difficult things happening in the world.
So perhaps you heard me read this passage, and then you saw the children’s sermon a moment later when I told the kiddo’s about how the light of Christ shines and spreads, and you think…here we go again…Pastor Scott’s talking about how God came into our dark world and changed it…admittedly that’s a common theme for me, I even wrote about it in this month’s newsletter…and if you’re thinking that, then you’re probably also thinking that this sermon is going to be the same old story. (pause)
But what if I said that God was already in the world…long before Christ showed up. John 1 starts off with one heck of an Old Testament reference…In the beginning…Sound familiar?  Sounds a lot like Genesis 1 if you ask me…
In the beginning was the Word…and the Word was with God…and the Word WAS God…and as we think about Genesis we ask the question of just what God and Word up to “in the beginning?” Well, remember what the first step was when God created the heavens and earth? (pause) As I recall, God said…Let…there…be…light.
Hmmm…let there be light…you mean, like a light that shines in the darkness? A light that’s never really left the world? Because God has never left this world.
Sure there have been times when it seems like God has washed his hands of the this whole deal…but it just isn’t true. God has been there since the beginning…and God is still there…and the Word…well, it’s been here the whole time too…because the Word is God himself…and that’s the point that John wants to make in his Gospel.
This passage, its just the introduction…but it might as well be a table of contents because it outlines pretty much the entire Gospel. And it starts off by telling us in no uncertain terms that Jesus is God himself…the same God that created the world…yah, Jesus helped with that…John says so.  The same God that watched over and led the Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years…camping out with them…living in the tabernacle as a pillar of smoke…same God, yep, Jesus was there too…John says that too…and the same God that the Jewish people believed hung out in the temple…behind the curtain…you guessed it…Jesus was there too…and we know that because John tells us that he was in the world.
But if Jesus is God…and was always with God…then just why did God feel the need to take on flesh and start walking around? If Jesus really existed as the Word or the Will of God, why make this switch? Why change it up? Same old God, but a new story. (pause)
Just what was God trying to prove here?  Well, that’s the million dollar question isn’t it?  Now I could give the normal answer and say that God did it…that Jesus chose to take on flesh and walk around as one of us to experience the same life that we do…the same temptations that we do…and he did it all to over come those things…and that’s all true…
But I also think that God chose to take on flesh and walk around as one of us to remind us that He was never really that far away to begin with. Sure, no one had ever seen God face to face…but that’s because God exists in a way that is not limited to a body…who knows…maybe God doesn’t even have a face to look at…but think back to Genesis again…when God and the Word said “let us make mankind in our image.”  And when God had made Adam and Eve and breathed life into them…he saw that it was very good. (pause) Look around people…look into the faces of those around you…think about the faces of those you see each and every day…because when you look at their faces, you are looking at one that is made in the image of God…all it took was for God to put on flesh and walk around so that we could be reminded that the God that we worship…the God that offers us grace and truth through his Son…has been here the whole time. (pause) He just looks like something now…that’s all.
And when we realize that…when we realize that Jesus Christ is truly God…then we know he has given each of us the power to become Children of God…heirs to the promise of eternal life…and nothing can change that. (pause)
It’s a new year…full of promise and possibility…and the God that created the world…who is the same God that has been present throughout the ages…and who is the same God that put on flesh…has made his dwelling among us…God’s still here…and he’s not going anywhere…quite the contrary…but he is taking this reality somewhere and he has invited us to come along with him.
And so, in this new year, I want each of you to remember that you are beloved Child of God, made in the image of God…and that God has given you grace and truth through Christ. And as you remember that, be sure to remind yourself of that…and so I pose a new resolution for you here in 2014…every morning, when you look yourself in the mirror, tell yourself…out loud “I am God’s child, deserving of love and respect, and God will use me to change the world.” (pause)
Do that, and the first aspect of that world change might just be your own…and then maybe, just maybe…God will use you to change the world of someone else. Amen